Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Posted by Anonymous |
Jeff Terranova is hardcore royalty. From being one of the founding members (as well as singer/frontman and bassist) of New York hardcore staple Up Front to being the sole person behind the quarter century old Smorgasbord Records label, Jeff is one of the few people who has been an integral part of both the '80s and the '90s hardcore scenes. In 2011, he's as active in the hardcore scene as he's ever been with Smorgasbord, photographing shows and a new band called Confidence Crisis. Enjoy the interview. - Andrew Jacobs

What is the current status of your band Up Front?

With members in NY, VA, MA and SoCal, we play out when we can, which is pretty rare nowadays. We actually get offers to play all of the time but it's rare when all five of us are available at the same time and can pull it off.

Up Front was active throughout the entire decade of the '90s. What '90s hardcore bands do you recall playing with during that time?

On the East coast: Edgewise, Onion, Seven League Boots, Lifetime, Mouthpiece, Face Up, Vision, Release and Sick Of It All.

On the West coast: Outspoken, Farside, Strife, Chorus Of Disapproval and Drift Again.

Do you have any interesting and/or funny tour stories from the '90s that you'd like to share?

The early '90s was an interesting time in general for me due to the fact that I went from playing bass in Up Front to being the front man and center of attention. I had grown my hair in and had a mustache and was singing fast melodic hardcore. I started shying away from wearing my hardcore shirts because they were all mostly too big for me and I didn't want them to get ripped or stolen at shows. I would wear paisley button ups over thrift store finds like Barbara Mandrel, Dee Lite or Jackalope t-shirts. Even though I had a lot of pride in the band and our music and message, I tried really hard not to take myself too seriously and I was sick of always having to wear the hardcore uniform to fit in and to be taken seriously.

When we toured the US in the summer of 1991, we decided that we were going to steal a lawn gnome from a random person's yard, take it on tour with us, take photos of it in front of every state road sign that we passed and as many tourist sites as possible, then return it home with the photos when we returned... and that is exactly what we did. Here is a link to a section of the Up Front website that has a newspaper article in a local paper about it as well as some photos -

What are some of your favorite Up Front songs/records and why?

I love the Spirit LP for the simpleness of it... just high school friends writing songs from the perspective of young hardcore high school aged kids. No hidden messages, no deep between the lines meanings, just straight forward honesty and the sincerity and righteousness of youth. I also love the Daybreak 7" because it was the first time that I sang in the studio and I tried really hard to make my own mark. I am far from a good singer but somehow, those songs moved me in such a way that brought out something deep inside of me.

My favorite song to play bass live is "Second Thoughts". There is something about the riffs and the way that my fingers need to move around the neck of the bass that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

As a musician and a songwriter, who/what are some of your influences and why?

In the early days of Up Front, I had just crossed over from the metal scene to the hardcore/punk scene. Two of the main reasons why I played bass was Clif Burton of Metallica and Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, they shaped my playing early on and taught me how to be riffy. When Up Front formed, we enjoyed fast, fun, positive hardcore like Minor Threat, 7 Seconds and Uniform Choice, so I guess that we subconsciously modeled ourselves after these bands. Over time, I grew to love and appreciate Big Country, The Hellacopters, Catherine Wheel, Gluecifer, Airbourne, Paul Collins, The Romantics and countless other rock 'n roll and power pop bands. I think that nowadays, my influences are drawn from a weird combination of power metal, hardcore, thrash and power pop.

What is the current status of your record label, Smorgasbord Records?

The label has switched gears and now releases digital download only releases but currently, most of the back catalog is in print and available. Once the current physical stock runs out, it will not be repressed but will remain available digitally.

What '90s hardcore bands, if any, did you put out on Smorgasbord?

Standpoint, Follow Through, Fast Times, Show Of Hands, Hatebreed, Coalition, Fury For Another and Trouble Is...

What Smorgasbord release(s) are you most proud of and why?

The Wide Awake discography CD because it took a very long time to get all of the music back from various sources and I always felt that the band's 7" should have been on Smorgasbord originally. I am proud of the content, the layout and also the fact that the original band reunited for a handful of shows to support the CD back in 1998.

I am also proud of the recent AWARE! download only discography release that was released in December of 2010. I have been friends with and a fan of AWARE! for many years and have always felt they were not appreciated as much as some of the other bands of their era because they were not on Schism or Revelation or even Smorgasbord Records. I wish that times were different and this release could have seen a proper CD or double LP packaging but it just wasn't feasible.

Discuss your new band, Confidence Crisis.

Basically, I had been living in SoCal for about a year and had taken time off from playing music. I had been meeting a ton of people while here going to shows and hanging out and Unreal Ditch mentioned to me that he wanted to get a "youth crew" type late 1980's style hardcore band going. He started posting on Facebook about looking for members and was advertising on Craigslist for members. I decided to tell him that I would jam with him and whoever else he could recruit and see what happens. He found a drummer and asked if I would be willing to play guitar and see how it goes. We walked away from that one practice with 3 complete songs and the shell of a 4th. Three drummers and two bass players later, we decided that we had something worthwhile, so we starting booking shows and picked a name for the band. We currently have 5 completed songs, two in the works, a remake/cover of a Trouble Is... song and two covers. We played our debut show on 6/25/11 with Doggy Style and The Pegs and our second show is 7/17/11 at the Riff Haus in Fullerton.

You've become an avid photographer in the last few years. What do you enjoy about photography?

I enjoy walking into a venue and having to instantly adapt to the environment. The lighting is never the same from venue to venue and sometimes, it even differs from band to band or show to show at the same venue. You only have one chance to capture the live action and that is thrilling to me. I shoot everything manually, I control everything the camera is doing at all times, so if I misjudge the lighting and my settings, I walk away with crap. I am too old to stage dive and get into the pit but I love being in the front row singing along and taking photos. I also love being in the photo pit and on the stage, there are so many aspects of a live show to capture, from the band members and the instruments to the crowd singing along and stage diving, etc.

I also enjoy shooting nature and outdoors, which has some of the same challenges as live shows in regards to lighting and it constantly changing on you. It can be sunny one second and cloudy the next or sunny and shady in the same shot. Same with wildlife, the majority of the time, you only have once chance to capture them before they are gone, so if the settings are off, no luck. But that is how I like it. Anyone can buy an expensive camera and set it to automatic and get a decent looking photo. Me, I like a challenge and a photo that I can look at and be proud of.

Feel free to shamelessly plug any of your other musical or non-musical endeavors here.

Up Front -
Smorgasbord Records -
My photography collections -


hows yr edge said...

"the sole person behind the Smorgasbord Records label"


Ummmmmmm, Chris Daily?

Anonymous said...

Jeff's been running Smorgasbord solo since '96.